As much as the print industry has suffered, so to have many of the related industries that are part of the chain of communication so often mentioned in this blog. Change has come to all verticals—perhaps to varying degrees—but change is the only constant.
Recently, I have been very busy playing a direct/integrated marketing detective, hired by corporations (including print providers) to review, analyze, and comment on the performance of a multitude of integrated cross-media marketing programs. These programs run the gamut; they use online and offline tools, are integrated and, in many cases, the results are measured.
Yet, during my investigations I have discovered a developing trend. That trend is the lack of post-program review and assessment, particularly from the print end of the business.
If a printer is assigned to add value to a direct marketing effort, offers a solution and that solution underperforms, would it not be a good thing to ask the question, “Why?” What I have found is the question is rarely asked and, if a program is underperforming, the “blame game” is more apparent then the “why game.”
Even stranger is the print partner looking for additional work and ignoring the most recent underperforming effort. No, I’m not saying that every underperforming project is the print provider’s fault, but in three of the nine projects I have reviewed, the print provider was clearly at fault.
In all three cases, the print provider would not consider accepting blame and was left wondering why no new work was coming its way. When challenged (part of what I was hired to do), the responses from these print provider and others have been:
- Not our fault.
- Bad data.
- Poor management.
- Lack of defined goals.
- Unreal objectives.
It’s too late to provide a fix to a program that is completed. The best one can expect is to change the next effort, and that assumes you will be hired for the next effort. The need is to test the process and the program, and with your marketing finger on the pulse, measure the program at every stage and level. Digital technology allows on-the-fly changes to be made, and those changes can be very easily measured.
I’m not here to lay blame, but I feel that I should provide a few responses to the five points mentioned above. With the world of integrated marketing and media convergence adding levels of complexity each day, excuses—no matter how real they are—will no longer be tolerated. Solutions, not excuses, are the true need.
The following comments are based on what I have learned during the course of these forensic investigations1) Not our fault
—Did you fully understand the project? Did you feel that you could provide the requested/required support internally and not need to partner with external experts? Did you really have the skillset needed to handle this project? “Not our fault” is the most common reply, but the definitive answer as to why it is not your fault is almost never provided.2) Bad data
—At what level? Demographics, addresses, or dated information? Was the data reviewed, checked and checked again? As we enter the new world of BIG data, the problems of data will increase with the “bigness” of the data. Be prepared…know the market, know the need, know the goals and, yes, know your capabilities.3) Poor management
—Where? At the client? By the agency? Could it be with you and your shop? What was or is your project management protocol? Do you even have one?4) Lack of defined goals
—This is a very grey area. What I have found is that the goals as you, the vendor, see them are in many cases very different from the goals and objectives as the client sees them. In most cases, the solution provided by the print provider had been based on the technology it offered, felt comfortable with or felt it fully understood. Yet, in the end, the choice of solutions was not the client-correct solution at all.5) Unreal objectives
—Just because you read that personalized marketing provides an increase in response does not mean it is the correct solution to met this client’s or project’s objectives. What you need to understand is that different target markets have different objectives and different solutions.
Yes, personalized marketing is a great tool, depending on each segment’s true needs. Millenniums, for example prefer texting, fundraising is better served with direct mail, not digital tools. In the end, the objectives can be defined by what the client wants and also what tools you will offer to achieve those objectives.Sound interesting? Want to engage some more? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can see if any of these five, edge-of-the-cliff-for-new-business points fit your modus operandi or not.